Settlements With Truck And Bus Fleets Reduce Urban Air Pollution

Attorney General Spitzer today announced settlements that will reduce air pollution from idling trucks and buses and help improve the quality of life in urban neighborhoods around the state.

"Idling trucks and buses generate extraordinary amounts of harmful air and noise pollution," said Spitzer. ""By agreeing to comply with engine idling laws and fund neighborhood improvements, these companies will help address a serious environmental and public health problem."

An investigation by Spitzer's office found that a number of truck and bus fleets, including those of Frito-Lay, Inc., Greyhound Lines, Inc., Community Coach, Inc., Gray Line New York Tours, Inc., Leisure Lines, Inc., and Suburban Trails, Inc., repeatedly violated state and city laws that limit the amount of time vehicles may idle when not in traffic.

Under the agreements, the six companies, which together operate approximately 1,500 trucks, buses and vans, will:

  • Implement a new idling policy covering operations in New York City and the rest of the state that addresses start-up procedures, employee responsibility to report idling tickets, and employee sanctions for violating the policy;
  • Implement a plan to eliminate excessive idling at and around their service facilities;
  • Train all current and new drivers and service area personnel about the idling regulations, company idling policy, and the agreement with the Attorney General's Office;
  • Monitor compliance of their operations in New York for a period of three years and, during this period, pay penalties ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 per idling violation in addition to any statutory penalties assessed by law enforcement agencies;
  • Pay $103,000 for tree planting projects in the New York City neighborhoods where there is the greatest need for trees; and,
  • Pay $7,343 to the Attorney General's Office to cover the costs of the investigation.

The tree planting project will be undertaken by the New York Tree Trust, a not-for-profit branch of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Environmental Action Coalition, a not-for-profit organization. Trees will be planted and maintained in neighborhoods that lack trees, including the South Bronx, Central Harlem and Brooklyn's Fort Greene section.

Public health, neighborhood and environmental activists from New York City praised the settlement: Craig Wilson, Associate Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association of the City of New York, said: "For the 5.5 million New York City residents who have lung disease, cleaning up pollution from idling diesel truck and busses is an important step towards protecting short and long-term health."

Merilyn Gelber, chairwoman of the Environmental Action Coalition, said: "This settlement will plant more trees where they are needed most. New York City's neighborhoods will be greener and the air will be cleaner thanks to this intelligent settlement agreement by Attorney General Spitzer."

Majora Carter, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx, said: "Having grown up in Hunts Point where diesel trucks on residential streets are a part of everyday life, I have seen first hand the negative impact of idling vehicles. In my neighborhood, the childhood asthma rate is six times the national average - a problem that is exacerbated by truck and bus emissions. I'd like to thank Attorney General Spitzer for his efforts to minimize these emissions and their impact."

Spitzer also released a brochure today with the American Lung Association of New York to inform the public, fleet owners, schools and government agencies about the health and environmental dangers of idling and the state and city laws that limit idling.

Emissions from trucks and buses contain pollutants that have been linked to cancer, respiratory diseases and other serious health effects. These pollutants include microscopic particles of soot and other pollutants that can lodge deep in people's lungs, plus smog-forming nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide.

To counter the harm caused by diesel exhaust, state law provides that trucks and buses with diesel engines may not idle for more than five consecutive minutes, except when powering an auxiliary function (such as loading or unloading cargo or mixing concrete) required for maintenance, or when performing emergency services. Under New York City law, trucks and buses with any kind of engine (that are not legally authorized emergency vehicles) may not idle for more than three consecutive minutes, except when powering a loading, unloading or processing device.

The Attorney General thanked the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for assisting in the investigation.

The investigation was handled by the Assistant Attorney General Lemuel M. Srolovic and Policy Analyst Thomas Congdon in the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau, and by Deputy Bureau Chief Phil Alba of the Investigation's Bureau.

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